Homeowners who built loft conversion under 'permitted development' told their home has had its rights removed

A large loft conversion for a white bungalow as can be seen from a neighbour's garden
Neighbour's demanded a loft conversion be investigated after it "nearly doubled" the size of this homeowner's house (Image credit: SWNS)

A couple who converted their loft under permitted development rights has been told the development is in breach of planning laws as their home had its permitted development rights removed nearly a decade ago.

Harriet and Aaron Baines in Hilperton, Wiltshire, must now apply for retrospective planning permission for the loft conversion to their bungalow and hope it is granted or face having to undo the work.

However, residents in the Wiltshire village are unlikely to support their application with claims that the loft conversion "towers over their homes and robs them of privacy" as well as "doubling" the size of the property.

How did the couple alter their home?

The couple say the loft conversion utilises "existing loft storage space" to add three bedrooms and two bathrooms to the three-bedroom bungalow, with their plans being "specifically designed by the architect to keep within permitted development".

From the outside, three Velux windows were added to the front of the home and two to the side. To the rear of the property, the roof has been raised with three additional windows and a Juliet balcony plus an additional structure has been added to the side of the home.

Why had permitted development rights been removed?

While loft conversions typically do fall under permitted development – although it is usually advisable to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate before works commence – this was not the case with this home as permitted development rights had been removed nearly a decade earlier. 

According to the council, this was due to planning permission for the home to be built in 2006 was granted with a planning condition that permitted development rights would be removed from the home.

Cllr Nick Botterill, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, explained: "Permitted development rights allow householders to make certain improvements or extend their homes without the need to apply for planning permission. 

"However, in some circumstances, councils are able to remove certain permitted development rights by applying planning conditions when approving a previous planning application. This means that planning permission is required, even if it would otherwise be allowed under permitted development legislation."

Mrs Baines appears not to have been aware of this planning condition, having told Wiltshire Council she “understood all works were under permitted development” and that planning permission for the loft conversion was not needed.

Mrs Baines was subsequently told by the council: “Even though the works you are completing ordinarily do not require planning permission, due to the fact your permitted development rights have been removed, you do in fact require planning permission.”

A yellow bungalow with small driveway and tree in front of the house

Neighbour's said the loft conversion was not in keeping with the area and ordered Wiltshire Council to investigate  (Image credit: Google Earth)

Told to submit a retrospective planning application

After discovering that they had built the loft conversion in breach of planning laws, the couple have since submitted a retrospective planning application.

If this is not successful, it is likely the couple could be told to remove the conversion or face enforcement action. That said, the council would have to be able to justify their decision to either grant or reject the permission.

Neighbours unlikely to support the application

Residents near the home are unlikely to support the couple's retrospective planning application. Neighbours claim the loft conversion "towers over" other homes, is not in keeping with the area and is too large, submitting their objections to Wiltshire Council.

One neighbour, Raymond Hazel, said: “The development work that has been constructed is overbearing/obtrusive and not in keeping with the area and removes privacy from our property."

Others argue that the loft conversion looms over their garden fences and has doubled the size of the home.

Parish council chairman Cllr Ernie Clark, who investigated the loft conversion after receiving complaints, stated: “Having been invited into some of the gardens to the rear of the application site, I am shocked at the direct overlooking and absolute loss of privacy which this application will cause.”

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.